Leadership in a nonprofit is hard enough, but adding a pandemic was more than we could have ever imagined. When COVID-19 came into our world, hard decisions had to be made quickly. In those first few weeks, as our organization's economic reality began to unfold, there were many sleepless nights and stressful days as we tried to absorb new information and manage the changing landscape.

Things have begun to level out for now, and like many, we are managing a new normal. Except for masks and fewer volunteers on the jobsite, Manatee Habitat's operations look pretty much the same. Still, inside the organization, there is a renewed sense of confidence in our mission, and our ability to tackle tough stuff has grown from our willingness to work as a team and with our partners at The Patterson Foundation to examine and strengthen ourselves.

As we navigated the unknown in the early days of COVID, we grounded ourselves by focusing first on our mission, values, and priorities as an organization. What was most important for us was maintaining the safety and well-being of Habitat families, volunteers, and our staff. The second most important thing was to utilize our leadership, staff, and board members' strengths and creativity as we navigated our next steps. On-going communication and collaboration enabled us to work effectively to tackle each hurdle and manage a new reality. With this grounding, we were ready to begin the more challenging work of looking inward to understand how to stabilize ourselves in the short term and position ourselves for future growth.

The opportunity to participate in the introductory "Labinars" and "Webversations" through The Patterson Foundation's Advancing Mission Thrivability program came at just the right time. Being selected as one of six inaugural nonprofits for the consulting services from our friends at No Margin, No Mission provided the support and guidance we needed for the work ahead. Through the process, we took a deeper look into who we are, who we want to be, and most importantly, what we would need to do to get there. Our work with Advancing Mission Thrivability gave us the plan for strengthening our organization in a way that will sustain us for the long term and provide us with tools and increased confidence in facing the future.

Manatee Habitat is grateful that we found a new sense of confidence in ourselves and our mission during what could have been a time of great anxiety. Partnering with the consultants in Advancing Mission Thrivability gave us the chance to obtain guidance in honestly facing the gaps and creating a plan that will have a long-term positive impact on our work and the families we serve.

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